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Culture center has end in sight

With money from the county and naming rights to sell, renovation can be completed.

Published August 25, 2006

CARROLLWOOD - Thanks to an additional $1.9-million from Hillsborough County, final renovations of the Carrollwood Cultural Center will start soon.

Although the design for the cultural center hasn't changed in four years, construction costs have become "astronomical," said Tom Jones, president of the Friends of the Carrollwood Cultural Center, a group coordinating the center's development with the county.

Rising construction costs slowed the building's progress by a few months.

The $1.9-million approved by the County Commission on Aug. 16 settles the deficit.

The money is not for add-ons, said John Brill, spokesman for Hillsborough County's recreation department.

"It's basically going to cover the cost of the building. It's not for anything new or additional," Brill said. "It's just that the price is more than we thought it would be when we started the project."

The county dedicated roughly $2.4-million to renovate the building, formerly St. Mark's Episcopal Church, at 13335 Casey Road.

The additional $1.9-million will finance the following:

* a two-story, 5,000-square-foot addition on the center's S Village Drive side

* a 100-space parking lot on the center's S Village side

* a walkway encircling the center

* completion of the auditorium stage

* lighting and sound for the stage

* replacing the interior ceiling

* landscaping

Much of the two-story, 5,000-square-foot addition will enable the building to have a lobby with restrooms, offices and meeting rooms, elevator, stairwell and a cultural center store for people to buy artistic items, said Jones.

Brill said he doesn't expect to request more money from the county.

County commissioners also approved allowing the Friends of the Carrollwood Cultural Center to sell naming rights for rooms, auditorium seats and "just about everything" in the center, said Jones.

The group hopes to raise $500,000 through naming rights.

The cultural center is scheduled to open in the next 10 months.

Jones envisions the cultural center as a seven-day-a-week operation, where people from all over the area can come to "drink coffee, talk to friends, work in the arts rooms, take lessons, do pottery in the evening and attend recitals."

And the Friends group has already hosted two recitals - next door.

In February, the county paid $920,000 for the little brown building at 13345 Casey Road, the former Church of Christ at Carrollwood.

If construction stays on course and the hurricane season stays quiet, said Jones, the Friends group should be hosting events in the larger building when renovations are completed there in late summer 2007.

Amber Mobley can be reached at (813) 269-5311 or

For more info

For more information about securing naming rights at the Carrollwood Cultural Center, call Tom Jones at 813 969-3991.

[Last modified August 23, 2006, 12:39:06]

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